crickets, hearth and elsewhere


I’ve always loved the sound of crickets. In fall, or approaching it, we sometimes hear them in the house. And it’s the time of year when field crickets are drawn indoors, drawn by the warmth of the hearth.

A few weeks ago, John painted the back bedroom so it can be used as a nursery when babies visit. There was a cricket keeping him company as he painted, a premonition of grandson Arthur’s arrival the other day. I’ve read that it was common in ancient China to keep crickets in special cages and they could be counted on to act as family watch-dogs. Errr, watch-crickets. They sing almost constantly, only becoming silent if strangers approached in the darkness of night. Quiet = danger? Something like that.

We have a cricket cage, as it happens — part of a wind-chime arrangement. I can’t imagine keeping a little creature inside it, to sing or otherwise. And soon enough other crickets will find their way into the house, even into the kitchen where I’ve often found them hiding in firewood on the hearth or else on windowsills in warm reflected light.

And Arthur is happily occupying the newly-painted room — and his grandad’s lap.


It’s lovely to have him here (and his parents of course). I’m reluctant to hold him too much as a night drive down the Coast to Emergency the other night because I was having trouble breathing resulted in a diagnosis of double pneumonia. But that’s being treated with a powerful antibiotic and in a day or two I should be recovered enough to at least be a more active grandmum.

Let the crickets sing and the babies laugh and cry. I’m grateful to be able to hear all of it.

On a branch
floating downriver
a cricket, singing.
              –Kobayashi Issa, trans. Jane Hirshfield

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